What’s a Conservative to Do?

Things are getting worse and we have to do something.
But what, how and when?

We can continue to lick our wounds, gripe as the situation deteriorates or try to ignore the problems. Alternatively, we may be able to do something useful. The situation is deteriorating.

David Solway asked at PJ Media Is America Broken? He concluded that she is.

The America we have taken for granted and insouciantly abused is no longer. The two-term Obama presidency, with its roots in the seditious neo-Marxist doctrines of Antonio Gramsci, Cloward-Piven and Saul Alinsky, signals what resembles the end of the great republican experiment. The American dream seems to have become just that — a dream — or what amounts to the same thing, the American nightmare. What its enemies could not do, a demoralized America has accomplished for itself. “And a man’s foes,” we read in Matthew 10:36, “shall be they of his own household.”

The only issue that remains is whether recovery and restitution, something akin to a reborning, is still possible. Recently, on a whim, I visited a so-called Metaphysical Emporium and purchased a crystal ball to add to my collection of exotica. But I must confess that, even when washed in salt water and set against a dark backdrop as recommended, it has been entirely unforthcoming on this question.

First and current politician

Going on the offensive, long term

I suggested paths we might follow here, here, here and here. The Republican Party seems increasingly moribund as a conservative organization and we need to displace it — gradually — by forming another party or parties that can create initially transitory coalitions as suit mutual interests. Perhaps cynically, I have come to think that the principal focus of both parties is to reelect incumbents who have demonstrated their willingness to follow party leaders.

Jim Gourdie at Conservatives on Fire suggested that we need to think long term and I agree. He observed,

About 100 years ago, some serious thinker who truly believed in the teachings of Karl Marx arrived at the conclusion in groups and by individuals that their dream of a workers paradise, their dream of defeating capitalism was not going to be achieved by the use of force. These people concluded that they would have to take the long-term view of gradually defeating capitalism from within.

. . . .

What I am asking you, dear friends, is isn’t it time to face reality and accept that we are not going to get our America back in the short-term. Short of a miracle, that is not in the cards, is it? So, isn’t it time for conservatives to start converting our ideas into short, mid, and long-term plans?

Jim offers Andrew Klavan’s ideas as expressed in The Long Game. It’s well worth reading. Among Mr. Klavan’s suggestions is to capture segments of the entertainment industry.

Conservatives think when they have won an argument in the newspapers, the fight is over. Leftists know their Hippocrates. They know they can rewrite history in novels, on TV, and in the movies, and a generation later, their false versions will be accepted as truth. As former ambassador Joseph Wilson said, when his questionable actions were rendered heroic in the dishonest movie Fair Game: “For people who have short memories or don’t read, this is the only way they will remember the period.” It’s not that conservative ideas don’t make their way into popular entertainment; it’s that they always come in disguise. Even leftists love deeply conservative films like the Lord of the Rings and Dark Knight trilogies, because they recognize good values when they’re not forced to apply them to real life. But conservatives themselves quail when conservatives speak their values plainly in the arts. Too preachy, they cry, too much propaganda, too much . . . too much . . . conservatism! We don’t need more conservative artists. We need an infrastructure to support them: more funding, more distribution, sympathetic review venues, grants and awards for arts that speak the truth out loud.

The motion picture sector seems likely to have more impact on the large and growing “I want my free stuff” crowd if they don’t have to pay much of their own money to enjoy films. Could some of those who contribute financially to conservative causes subsidize the production, promotion and presentation of films without necessarily obvious conservative messages but which could still resonate usefully with the “free stuff” crowd? In this article, Nebraskaenergyobserver quotes Mark Steyn as saying,

“We just wasted a billion dollars trying to drag a guy with an (R) next to his name over the finish line. Maybe we should have spent that money making five, $200-billion, Avatar-sized movies that framed the conservative message with great, big, blockbuster storytelling. We need a strategy for getting back in the game on all other fronts.”

. . . .

“You cannot raise a couple of generations in liberal air from kindergarten to university — with motion pictures, with television, with newspapers, with mainline churches — in a default liberal setting, and then turn it around with elections. You can’t save the country with a guy in the voting booth punching the tab of the fella with the (R) after his name every other November.”

He is very likely correct.

I suggested here that music can also move our spirits. It can do so for good or for evil. It is a very important part of the entertainment industry because it can greatly affect human emotions, perhaps more than can any other. Even those who don’t remember the words can “hum along” and the words — as well as the message — can sink in along with the tune. Music did well in the past and can do so again. In recent years music, and some horrid stuff that has come to pass as music, have lured many to the left politically. That can change if music can be enjoyed by larger audiences than those already conservative. For that to happen, it will have to be presented through broader based media than country and western and religious music currently are. That will require both funding and the promotion it can buy. A strong “get out the vote” push will also be needed to take advantage of musical successes, and that will not work unless we start well before the next election.

I have never listened to rap “music,” know little about it and whatever I think I know is probably wrong. However, if this article is accurate, we should not adopt Marco Rubio’s positions concerning it.

How about the gaming sector of the entertainment industry? Nebraskaenergyobserver makes some possibly good points about that sector here; it is a sector about which I know nothing.

Going on the defensive, short term

It has been suggested that Republican and conservative “obstructionists” should give President Obama, “The Won,” what he wants economically.

He never owned the economy. He didn’t take the hit he should have taken. He was able to blame Republicans. “If only they’d gone along with my plans, we’d be in much better shape.”

Let’s let him own it, lock, stock, and barrel. Tax the living shit out of the top 2% of earners. Screw it. We’ve been saying that the result will be a loss of jobs, a lack of investment, and that it will actually reduce revenues. We have history backing us up with a lot of data. But people don’t listen. France just gave the Obama plan a shot and its having predictable results there (capital fleeing the country). People don’t pay attention. They need to see it again. They need to have it affect their lives.

Conservatives should say, “We’re giving him what he wants. Here’s what the result will be… But the man won the election and claims a mandate for his plan. We’re going to let him have it. We are clearly on the record: It won’t do what he thinks it’ll do. It will cause this country harm. It will result in stagnation of the economy at best, or a new recession at worst. Remember what we’re saying. President Barack Obama and the Democrat Party own the economic results of these policies, because the policies are theirs.”

That could be a “tough love” prescription but seems instead to be the direction in which Republican “leaders” are heading with no warnings and no tough love components.

Republicans used to believe in free enterprise, the private sector, and low taxes. They believed in getting government the heck out of the way. They still talk like that, but they don’t seem to actually be operating like that. Senate and House Republicans seem to be in a bidding war to increase revenue in Washington. What’s worse, they are mendacious enough to call it “increasing revenue” instead of “tax increases,” when it amounts to the same thing. The Republican Party of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have taken a party that once believed in starving the beast and transforming it into a party that believes in feeding the leviathan lest the leviathan consume them. They operate out of fear — fear of losing their remaining power, fear of blame, and fear of the unknown.

Brent Bozell argued here that once Republicans yield sufficiently on taxes any Democrat suggestions that they will rein in spending will be ignored because they were specious from the beginning.

So if the dealmakers can’t come to an agreement, and the country goes over a “fiscal cliff,” journalists are determined to blame conservatives. Ironically, once taxes are raised, then conservatives are the ones who won’t have any skin in the game.

However, neither giving — nor refusing to give — President Obama what he wants seems likely to benefit Republicans over the next several years. Assume that the Democrats get substantial tax increases on the “filthy rich,” continuation of taxes as they are for the middle, no significant revisions to the Internal Revenue Code and the ability to continue spending and borrowing with a raised debt ceiling. No budget? No problem, mumble the Democrats; for their purposes, they are probably right. Mendacity of that sort won’t precipitate an immediate economic disaster and things will most likely continue to drift along, helping Democrats to improve their numbers in the Congress in 2014 and then to win another presidential election in 2016. If, instead, Republicans refuse to yield on tax increases on the “filthy rich” and reject excessive Government spending and borrowing, a recession seems likely before the 2014 elections and that will easily be blamed on the Republicans.  Either may well be just fine with President Obama and his party. Bryan Peterson at PJ Tatler notes,

President Obama essentially campaigned for another four years in office on the promise that he would tell us what he wants to do once he has won. He didn’t run on getting any specific things done, other than one thing . . . . He explicitly said that he would view winning re-election as a mandate to raise taxes on the rich. Four years prior, he explicitly said that he wanted to raise taxes on the rich “for the purpose of fairness,” not because hiking those taxes would lead to more government revenue or stronger economic growth. He doesn’t care about those latter two things as much as he cares about hiking taxes on the rich. He rightly believes that much of his own base puts taxing the rich above economic growth and sound fiscal policy. They all know that hiking taxes on the rich does nothing to fix our fiscal problems. But they don’t care.

. . . . While a recession would be terrible for the country, it may not be terrible for the Obama presidency. Obama knows that he has the media standing by to blame Republicans for any failure to reach a deal, and he knows that there are enough low-information voters out there to believe whatever the media says. The media covered for him both on Benghazi and the fiscal cliff during the elections; it’s likely to keep covering for him. He also knows, based on his own re-election victory, that a terrible economy leads to more dependency on government, which leads to more people seeing him and his party as the guarantors of their government benefits. This dynamic is a very effective way to kill arguments favoring smaller government. Who needs abstractions and Milton Friedman when there’s no food on the table? (Emphasis added.)

I wish there were magic pills that we could take and handy windmills with which to tilt and thereby solve the nation’s long term and terribly real economic problems. Unfortunately, the short term seems to be all that matters when times are measured in biennial election cycles. For that reason, our economic disasters can and will be put off for a while longer and it’s probably best to focus now on what to do when they can no longer can be delayed and how best to avoid or to recover from that likely disaster. In the meantime, it seems that the economic windmills are winning.

I do not know when the United States will eventually become Greece or worse with no other nation to bail her out of her misery (it’s best to read the linked article while ingesting a large and strong adult beverage). It may happen in a few years or it may happen later and there is nothing Democrats, Republicans or idiot savants from academia can do or say to prevent it. It will happen unless we change the parameters starting now. The only ways to do that are long term efforts to cause the nation’s citizens to think rather than emote on cue. A few ways are suggested in the first part of this article and those are expanded upon at the links. However, more and better ideas, along with ways to implement them, are needed. If the economy dies and cannot be resuscitated, it won’t be simply that the economy died. It will have happened because the Spirit of America died. And that’s why we need to devote our own time, energy and other resources to reviving the napping, but not yet dead, Spirit of America.


In quotation at the beginning of this article, David Solway opined that

The American dream seems to have become just that — a dream — or what amounts to the same thing, the American nightmare. What its enemies could not do, a demoralized America has accomplished for itself. “And a man’s foes,” we read in Matthew 10:36, “shall be they of his own household.”

However, the end of that dream will not come immediately and need not come at all unless we let it. Remember this song? It’s about our dreams.

As I wrote here shortly after the November 6th debacle,

The Mad Jewess posted this 1968 YouTube video. She wrote, “It is the song of the once great America, a nation that is now gone with the wind.” I felt much the same way and at times still feel that such is our future; but it will not necessarily happen that way unless we allow it to.

It seems to be a sad song only because it is now possible that “those were the days” and that they have gone, forever.  I still can’t get the song out of my head and don’t want to. Please listen to it several times; every time I listen more meaning comes from it, less and less of it sad. We and our dreams are not over and we can again “live the life we choose.” Only if we surrender to those who consider our dreams to be from an unfortunate past and no longer worthwhile will we forget them and relegate them to that past. If those dreams are to survive, we must instead keep them in our hearts and minds as achievable goals for which to strive and for which we shall conquer. Those dreams must remain part of our future until they become the reality of our present. That can happen only if we hold them as crucial components of our plans and demands for that future.

About danmillerinpanama

I was graduated from Yale University in 1963 with a B.A. in economics and from the University of Virginia School of law, where I was the notes editor of the Virginia Law Review in 1966. Following four years of active duty with the Army JAG Corps, with two tours in Korea, I entered private practice in Washington, D.C. specializing in communications law. I retired in 1996 to sail with my wife, Jeanie, on our sailboat Namaste to and in the Caribbean. In 2002, we settled in the Republic of Panama and live in a very rural area up in the mountains. I have contributed to Pajamas Media and Pajamas Tatler. In addition to my own blog, Dan Miller in Panama, I an an editor of Warsclerotic and contribute to China Daily Mail when I have something to write about North Korea.
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26 Responses to What’s a Conservative to Do?

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  15. Yeah, I’m pretty much right with you on the GOP. I was all, “Romney is better than wasting my vote on 3rd party,” this one last time, b/c getting Obama removed was of utmost importance. Didn’t quite work out for me, huh? I STILL wasted my vote, on the lousy GOP, ha. And now they are doing the usual song and dance, that whole dog and pony show, pretending like the Dems are still reasonable and, you know, sane.

    The GOP may very well be dying. I’ll be hard pressed to vote Republican in any election with a viable Libertarian candidate.

    And CoF is spot on: we need to accept the reality that there will be no short-term win for the Constitutional conservative. It’s all long term now, and unfortunately that prolly means some suffering in between. So the only real short term strategy now is preparation.

    I’m gonna go read the rest of his post now. have a great weekend!

  16. illero says:

    Good ideas, some new, some old, but what I miss the most in this and virtually all other “idea” pieces is the MECHANISM to make things happen. Let’s face it — the overwhelming majority of those who read essays like this have NO inkling how to actually plan and execute the changes needed to preserve/restore the spirit of America, much less the contacts and financial resources. On the other hand, we are told that the country as a whole still leans conservative. So maybe it really is about preaching to the choir — or the sheep who have strayed from our congregation. Many of them really believe in personal industry and accountability, in family, in quality education, in a strong military, in having our entitlement programs on a sound financial footing, in balanced budgets, in freedom of religion, in Second Amendment rights, etc. Our challenge is to get the message out there that we really are a group that they can feel comfortable coming home to, We don’t have to CONVERT them, they already mostly believe as we do. We need to REACH them.

    • Thanks, illero, for your comment.

      I wrote to a friend who had sent an e-mail responsive to the article. He also suggested that we need more about the mechanics of doing what needs to be done; I agree.

      I suggested several ways to do it in the recent article and through links to others posted this month. There are probably many others. Not having lived in the U.S. since 1996, not having visited there for more than five years and having no access to U.S. television programming, I am hardly current on entertainment there.

      I do think it’s something that needs to be done and I see few other viable ways. Maybe the “news” media, principally television and talk radio, have a useful place as part of the entertainment industry. We need more “how to do it” ideas, at least from some who know what they are talking about.

      Are there any non-news, non-talk entertainment programs that promote conservative ideas? I don’t know of any, but that does not mean that there are none. There should more than a few.

      As to the “we need to keep preaching to the choir” idea, we do need to do that as well. However, It seems likely that many in the choir are unhappy with the discordant notes coming from the Republican Party. I suspect that conservatives would be happier were we to get around to creating a new party or parties actually standing for what we want and able to enter into transitory coalitions with Republicans and perhaps even some Democrats. Might Colonel West, Herman Cain, Sarah Palin and many others be interested? I don’t know; I don’t know them and haven’t asked them. If you know any of them, or know others who do, perhaps you and/or they might give it a shot.

      These things require time — lots of it. I do not consider that a reason for not starting right now.

  17. Chrisnj says:

    What is a better way to let the GOP know they have no more supporters than if all registered Rs switch to be Independents (with no particular party affiliation)?
    It is much harder for them to attack/manipulate a huge undefined group of I(s) than to attack the small parties.
    We can then recruit our own candidate, some one who is popular, well-known, a fighter against the good old boys network and the lamestream media (Alan West? Palin?).
    There must be people within this huge group who can organize campaigns, people who will help with time or money……
    Certainly there are die-hard Republicans who will not leave their party, and there are those who believe a third party is taboo.
    How do we go about convincing most R(s) to switch to be I(s)?
    Everyone has his/her own idea what to do. That is our strong yet weak point.

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  19. genomega1 says:

    Reblogged this on News You May Have Missed and commented:
    What’s a Conservative to Do?

  20. Pingback: Hard Truths « nebraskaenergyobserver

  21. Mike says:

    Very well said. A healthy, yet depressing note of realism.

    • Thanks for the link. However, looking at the site and the various sub-sites, the direction seems to be toward those already convinced of the merit of conservative principles. “Preaching to the choir” is good but inadequate if the choir is to grow — as it clearly must. Unless we can reach and persuade low information voters, the free stuff – “fairness” crowd and others, nothing else will do much good. There are lots more of them than there are of us and they vote.

      Do you have any suggestions expanding upon the ideas set forth in the article? Do you agree or disagree with any of them? Which and why? Dialogue would be great.

  22. Thanks for the bump and a very good article, Dan.

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